What’s that you say? Fall is here? Ah yes, so i’tis. And for some of you-inz (if I was a true Pittsburgher, that would read “yinz”, but I’m just not there yet) it’s the Most Wonderful Tiiiiime of the Year! (You are obligated to sing that in your best Andy Williams voice, btw)
Oh yes, I know; I see your pumpkin spiced enthusiasm all over the internets, and I gotta tell you, your passion is inspiring. Your leafy, sweatery, footbally, cider&donuty warm and fuzzy Instagram posts say it all. You LOVE all things Autumn. I get it.
Everyone has their favorite season. Me? I’m summer all the way. Come on, all that vitamin D, what’s not to love about that? We’re all entitled to our seasoned opinions (see what I did there?). But it’s good to embrace the season you’re in, no matter which one is your favorite, cause after all, you’re in it. What choice do you have?
There are some seasons, though, that are a challenge to embrace. Or accept. Even a little bit. The truth is, some seasons are not Instagram worthy. In fact, some seasons just plain stink. No, worse than that. They *suck– as in “this is HARD”. As in, “For the love of Pete, when will this EHHHVERRRRR EHHHNNNND???” Cue the ugly tears… Yeah nobody wants a picture of that.
You’ve probably figured out I’m not just talking about shoveling snow. I’m talking about the Season of Suckiness.
Oh, you didn’t know that was a thing? It certainly is, my friend. And chances are, you’ve experienced at least one of these these sucky little seasons in your own life. Or maybe you’re even in one now? (in which case, I am so sorry, seriously) But in case you aren’t tracking – I’m talking about a truly difficult period of time – whether weeks, months or years that seems endless, and often (when you’re smack dab in the middle of it) pointless.
These Seasons of Suckiness (we’ll call them SOS’s henceforth) come uninvited, and have no social skills whatsoever. They rudely interrupt our regularly scheduled programming and force us into uncomfortable situations we’d normally avoid like the plague. Things like having to deal with certain people (including ourselves), or lack of certain people (ie. loneliness) or discomfort, or outright pain, or change, or loss… or some custom made molatov cocktail of all of the above. And worst of all, they waaaay overstay their welcome. (I told you, no social skills – smh)
So how does one approach these SOS’s?
Here are a few things I have learned (ok, still learning as we speak) that have been helpful when I actually remember to put them into practice… and are too good to keep to myself:
- Admit it sucks. That’s right. Don’t “suck it up” (sorry, it was right there, I couldn’t resist), suppress it or pretend it doesn’t suck. It does suck. You know it does. And the whole denial thing is never a good idea. Remember that scene in The Holy Grail? Yeah, you don’t want to do that.
The season may come and go, but you don’t want to stay stuck.
At some point, if you want to move on, you have to acknowledge where you are.
- Get honest with God about it. Maybe you’re like “It’s all good, I got this”, in which case, I give you the official Hee Haw Sal-ute.
For the rest of u who need a little Divine intervention, here’s the thing: Brokenness is God’s love language. You don’t have to pretend to be stronger or nobler or more mature than you really are. You can do like the old song says, and come “Just As I Am”. What a huge relief! There’s something very freeing about a good old fashioned, brutally honest “this is where I am, help me” come-to-Jesus talk. Of course part of that honest conversation requires listening honestly as well… but it’s a great launching point for navigating through the rest of this sucky season.
- How you pray matters. “Get me out of this!” is of course the official default supplication in these situations. And I’d be lying if I said I’m not fluent in that there prayer language. But wouldn’t you know it, as it turns out “Get me through this!” is actually a much more effective request. Don’t get me wrong, if you can get your deliverance, by all means, do so (I’m a big fan of deliverance myself). But let’s say you have made your appeal… again… and again… and deliverance just doesn’t seem to be nigh upon you. Might I suggest, friend, that something else may be at play here? On the surface, believe me, I know, it looks like suckiness for the sake of suckiness, as far as the eye can see, the only foreseeable point of which is to be delivered from it as quickly as possible. And yet… could it be that your loving Creator has a plan to intentionally take you through this difficult season and work something beautiful out of it for His purpose, or even better, work something beautiful in you?
I’m just sayin.
Now another great prayer, if you’re feeling especially adventurous, is “Meet me in this!” It’s one thing to get a good outcome, (again, big fan of those), but how much better to not have to wait for the happy ending to know that God is actually with you – right now- even in the suckiness?(And if you’re not the praying kind… first of all, thanks for sticking around… I still say being honest about where you are is the best way to not stay stuck there. What if you got real crazy and got honest with the God you’re not even sure you believe in? Just a thought)
- Remember that it doesn’t ALL suck. No, that’s not a contradiction to the above. Having the freedom to be honest about your situation is important. But the truth is, as HARD as things are, there are still plenty of the good things, too. Things you don’t even think about, they’re so good. Things that, if they weren’t there, believe me, you’d be thinking about them, and missing them. What are those things? Remember them. List them. Thank God for them. Seriously. It will help, maybe even transform your perspective in this season.
- Know it can’t last forever… but live as if it will. That’s right. Seasons are by definition, temporary. There WILL be an end to all of this suckiness… you just don’t know when. And until then, you’ve got to live. Right where you are. I know, you hate hearing that. I do, too. But believe me, you don’t want to be in perpetual disappointment. And the surest way to get there is to be a seasonal forecaster (that is, try to predict when this season will come to an end). What if your forecast is wrong? The truth is, this could go on a lot longer than you or anyone could anticipate, and when things don’t happen on our timetable, that’s when bitterness, even despair can set in. There’s a true story about a U.S. Admiral and Vietnam POW, named Jim Stockdale, who was asked how he survived. On the one hand, he said he never doubted he would get out, but… on the other, he also said that the “optimists” (that is, those who said “we’ll be out by Christmas”) were the ones who didn’t make it. Christmas came and went, and then Easter… and there they were, still there.Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick…
Proverbs 13:12.The thing is, they didn’t know when that season would end, but the ones who got through it had to find a way to LIVE in it (notice I didn’t say just exist). And so do you. And so do I. We need to be intentional to stay healthy, to cry out for help when we need it, and to keep hope alive even in the hardest moments- to LIVE. Because this isn’t the only moment, but it’s the only moment we have right now. How we live in it prepares us for the moments to come… Don’t forget, there’s the rest of the story to look forward to… and you don’t want to miss that.…but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
- File these lessons away for the next time.Remember today’s answer to prayer becomes tomorrow’s prayer request.
In other words, there will always be something to trust God for. When this season comes to an end (and it will), you’ll be in a brand new season. Hopefully it’ll be all good stuff… but at some point, that socially inept little SOS will sneak up on you… but this time you’ll be ready for it.After all, by then you will be well seasoned.∼
* I once got in trouble for using that word in a church service. I still don’t understand why… But then again, oh yeah. Misfit.
What about you? What have you learned about going through these kinds of seasons? I’d love to hear from you… and maybe someone else reading this needs your wisdom, too. Please share in the comments below!
8 thoughts on “6 ways to get through a Season of Suckiness”
Thank you for this, Nancy. I may be in an SOS right now. This is so good.
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You would fall under #4, my friend! :^)
#5 reminds me of that famous line from the Princess Bride, where Inigo asks the dread Pirate Robert, “Who are you, I must know.”
And Westley says, “Get used to disappointment.”
So if we get used to it, doesn’t that mean it’s not disappointment anymore?
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Hmmm… I guess that’s one way to look at it. 😉
But you bring up a good point that I didn’t address. Is there a difference between finding a way to LIVE in our SOS’s and being resigned to it?
I think there is. And I think Admiral Stockdale’s story illustrates it. In fact, here’s a link to Jim Collins (who wrote the book Good to Great) ‘splaining… no, there is no time for that… summing up (see what I did there?) what he calls the “Stockdale Paradox”:
In the end, I think what he is talking about is the difference between resignation and prevailing. Stockdale was not resigned to his circumstances, nor did he deny them. He was determined. He found a way to live, not just to survive.
Interestingly, in his case, he said he didn’t know if he’d ever get out. But he lived with the strong conviction that not only would he get out, but that this would be “the defining event of my life that in retrospect I would not trade.”
That’s a long way from “getting used to disappointment”.
So yeah, while Princess Bride may well be the greatest and most quotable movie ever made, I think I’m going with Stockdale on this one over the Dred Pirate Roberts 🙂
The song “Blessings” by Laura Story shed new light on SOS for me:
“Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise”
Just gave me a different perspective and made me rethink those seasons. I hope next time I can weather them a little better!
Love that song, Julie. Have been privileged to sing it at a funeral or two… Yes, perspective is everything!
“Get me out of this!” vs. “Get me through this!” – such a powerful change of perspective! I can’t fully say that motherhood is an SOS, but there are moments, even full days, that are. But I definitely recognize that those days and moments are the primary way God is teaching and refining me.
Yes, yes, sometimes we can have what feel like “mini-seasons” even within a single, very loooooong day! Been there.
I am learning, ever so slowly, to revise my default prayer (ie. reaction) to the hard stuff, where I can honestly ask Him to not only get me THROUGH, but MEET ME IN it… It changes everything!